Webserver moved yet againHaven't been having much luck with machines that have been hosting DrGimbarzevsky.com; Panthera was the longest host but 10 years of uptime seemed to be too much for this Mac mini which finally died with a fried HDD. Then moved to Ashera until about July2016 when Ashera halted with a bizarre windoze error. Likely all I have to do is to reinstall XP on this machine but just annoyed at the need to totally dismantle Ashera to get at the HDD and then go through backup process and reinstalling XP on it. Thus, my web site now runs on LokiNew, a W7 based machine that happened to be sitting around as it had the annoying habit of freezing up randomly every few days. This problem was finally solved when terminated UPS monitoring program which was the unexpected culprit. Of course, the last version of my web site files is on Ashera on a HDD whose SATA cable can't be easily hooked up to a laptop with SATA external connection and so would have to take machine apart to get at the deeply buried HDD's. Since I didn't feel like doing this in July, am going with a previous copy of my web site and probably time to do some cleanup on a project that started in 1998.
Found a lot of hidden files when googlebot crawled my site (5 minutes after it was up again) and have to fix those links. Will try to get some interesting medical stuff on it but will likely be using blog format as takes too long to create web pages using the ancient tools that I'm used to.
Also got ThingAmaBlog up and running properly again! Turns out that when have multiple blogs, it keeps separate settings for each one and had to go through process of switching to Apache22 directory for each blog as well as changing ip address of ftp server that was different for each blog. Should also note that my web page can now be accessed securely via https: for those of you who are paranoid about the NSA reading what you're browsing. NOTE: https: connection uses an Apache22 self signed certificate which will create and "insecure website" message on some web browsers.
Canadian drug "shortages"
Just got another email from RIH about more drug "shortages". Seems that the concepts of Nassim Taleb's book "Antifragile" haven't made it very far in the statist bureaucracy that controls every minute detail of the pharmaceutical industry in Canada.
The problem is that Sandoz is the sole supplier of many injectable drugs in Canada. Why such a situation is allowed is beyond me as it represents a single point of failure whereas a robust system would have multiple suppliers. Drugs such as lorazepam, hydromorphone and fentanyl are currently in very short supply. Now creating a drug solution of specified concentration for injection is not rocket science. As one of the GP's rather sarcastically commented at one of our hospital meetings recently, his patients have no difficulty in taking hydromorphone tablets and producing an injectable product from them. Such crude drug solutions do suffer from sterility issues; something which is readily dealt with by sterilizing the solution by passing it through a 0.2 micron milipore filter. That, and buffering it to pH 7.4 and ensuring it's isotonic to serum.
I've made sterile drug solutions of given concentration as I wanted my neural cultures to last as long as possible without bacterial infections. It was an action so simple that I was completely astounded when the shortage of injectable drugs came up as a major crisis in hospital pharmacies. The fact that pharmacists haven't been taught how to perform such simple operations is criminal.
The problem, at its root, is the absolutely insane statist regulatory climate that takes an operation as simple as dissolving the salt of a drug in normal saline and makes it into a byzantine regulatory nightmare that only the bravest (or most foolish) will attempt to navigate. Thus, we end up with a single supplier of iv drugs for the whole country whereas every junkie in Canada has absolutely no difficulty in providing themselves with injectable drugs.
To me the very existence of such a problem reflects a government totally out of control and a start in dealing with this problem would be to randomly fire every third bureaucrat and snivel servent as well as all members of the oxymoronically entitled "health protection branch". Next, one should take the totality of regulations enacted in the last 20 years and create a huge bonfire from the paper copies to erase this period of insanity from the history of the country. Then start teaching pharmacists how to dissolve a drug in a liquid -- one can use analogies like adding sugar to ones coffee. Sterile technique is easily learned and microbiology lab technicians can help out. Have hospitals prepare their own iv drugs and one no longer will have the absolutely idiotic situation where injectable drugs are not available in a whole country. Hell, I'm sure that the countries junkies would be happy to help explain how the process is done in exchange for a small donation of morphine and hydromorphone tablets.
House temperature analysis 2
After the first test of USB temperature monitors to look at house temperatures decided to look at what my furnace was doing and how it affected basement temperatures. More playing around with temperature monitors and DPlot. Full details at this link.
House temperature analysis
This blog entry is a change in that am putting more complex web pages off the blog so it doesn't get too cluttered. Thingamablog doesn't have a feature where one can have just a paragraph of a blog entry showing and then a link to expanded entry so I've had to create the larger page with SeaMonkey.
This post deals with analyzing temperature in my house for the last 11 days with USB temperature monitors purchased from the weather shop. The output of these units was then graphed with DPlot and the most interesting results occur when one looks at the FFT's of the data. So, if this is something you're interested in click here.
Every once in a while I will buy some software and the DPlot program that I purchased about a month ago is one of the best pieces of software that I've come across in decades. It's well worth the $195 US price tag and comes with very reasonable license terms -- install it on as many of your computers as you like if you're the only one using it. It's available for online purchase at DPlot.com and there is a free trial version.
I spend a lot of time crunching data from my various personal research projects and the greatest bottleneck that I've run into is creating graphs from the data. What I've been using, when I need a nice graph, is CricketGraph for the Mac. To run this program I have to launch my Mac emulatorBasiliskII, get the data transferred to a "disk" in the emulator, run CricketGraph, paste the resultant PICT file into M$ Word for the Mac and then export it as an rtf file which then needs to be copied from the Mac emulator "disk" drive and pasted into Open office. Needless to say, this is an incredibly tedious way to creating graphs and one of the reasons I'm constantly writing crude data display programs which are fine to look at data but leave much to be desired aesthetically.
My first attempt to deal with this problem was to use the MSChart control which comes with VB. For anyone who's thinking of doing this my advice is DON'T!!!! MSChart is an incredibly complex control which, after one has learned the arcane details of how to program it, doesn't allow you to print what you've created on the screen!!! This control is one of the worst POS that I've encountered from M$.
Anthony Watts put up a rave review about DPlot on WUWT in December 2010 and I was intrigued enough to download the demo version. Once I started using it I realized that I finally had something almost as good as CricketGraph. I say almost as good as one can't shift data up and copy it to another column to create Poincare plots like CricketGraph can do, but OTOH, DPlot will do FFT's on data and produces incredibly nice looking graphs. Now I can spend my time writing fast programs to manipulate data and, while I haven't tried it yet, DPlot is scriptable from VB. DPlot easily handled a 24 hour 3-axis accelerometry graph with over 3 million points which I found very impressive.
One application of DPlot I did today was to calibrate the USB temperature monitors which I bought from the Weather Shop (link at WUWT). These are really neat units that sample temperatures from once every 10 seconds to every hour or so up to 16383 readings. 2 of the 3 original monitors I bought 2 years ago still work (the onlly complaint I have about them is that they use a very hard to find 3.6 V Li battery)
Last night did a calibration of monitors 2 and 3 and results are quite impressive. Monitor 3 has some electrical tape and wire around the rear end and the effects of this on the monitor thermal parameters are seen during calibration process!
The monitors were both restarted after download of data and, after a short period at downstairs room temperature, were placed in downstairs fridge freezer for about 1 hour. Sampling frequency was 1/minute. After being removed from freezer, I had the bright idea of putting them on Athena keyboard as this is above room temperature. This was a bad idea as the keyboard is not at a uniform temperature as there was 4 F degree difference between the two monitors when they were read out. After spending about 5 hours on keyboard, they were placed on my table behind futon which is not heated by any computers. They were left there all night.
Since the keyboard was a non-uniform temperature, this section of data was deleted from the data finally used for calibration. There was hysteresis noted when USB3 was plotted against USB2 and will have to re-run the calibration to see if this was due to the electrical tape on USB3. There is some deviation at the high end of the range, but the least squares fit equation was:
USB3 = 0.998*USB2 + 0.321
Correlation coefficient was 0.9989 for R^2 of 0.9978
The two monitors are highly correlated as expected but I find it hard to believe how close the two units are to each other. I would have been ecstatic if I'd had a calibration curve this good when I was building my own DAS's in 1982. For all practical purposes, the temperatures are identical.
Standard error about the line is 0.558 so every temperature reading is +/- 0.56 F degrees. This is about what I'd expect from a thermometer with 1 degree F resolution. Considering that each unit was only $60 US this is very impressive and demonstrates how good off the shelf electronics have become in the last 30 years.
Calibration temperature range was from 13 to 84 F degrees and should try to get to 120 F to see if there are any non-linearities at the extremes.
The hysteresis indicates that the thermal time constant of the thermometers is >1 minute and have to keep this in mind when using them to monitor temperatures. There's not much point in using the 10 second resolution of the thermometer except for rapidly varying temperatures (like hanging from air-conditioner vent) where one doesn't get an absolute temperature but rather a partially integrated temperature. One would need a much faster thermal time constant to sample this, eg my thermocouple on DMM.
And here's the calibration graph described above.
Demolishing "scientific concensus"
Ran into a posting on WUWT by Geraldo Luis Lino which I would have to say is the perfect answer to those who view "scientific consensus" as being of importance in AGW. Science doesn't operate via concensus, it operates on the basis of which theory fits the facts the best. As we come up to the 1 year anniversary of climategate, it is encouraging to see that the whole AGW house of cards is collapsing and, hopefully, with it will end the wet dreams of statists hoping to create a totalitarian state on this planet by demonizing CO2.
We've seen the demise of the Chicago climate exchange which disappeared once the price of CO2 dropped below $0.05/ton. This market was supposed to be worth more that $1 trillion/year but cap and trade laws didn't get passed and it's history. The French have killed the "super ministry for the environment" which was to be in charge of "sustainable development" (meaning that it would extort money from the general public for transfer to watermelon criminals). This is good news and one wonders about WTF BC has a carbon tax which is the legacy of junk science and unbridled statism.
I'd forgotten about the "100 authors against Einstein" in 1931 as the German National Socialists used the full power of scientific concensus to reject "Jewish science" as embodied in the theory of relativity. The Germans never did find out how wrong scientific concensus was in this case, but the Japanese did experience the fruits of "Jewish science" at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
While it's nice to know that one is right, there can be no letup of the fight against the watermelons who created this scientific hoax of the millenium. It's now time for the fraud trials to begin and hopefully the totalitarians that were engaged in this criminal enterprise will begin serving very long jail terms soon.
Canadian census outrage
It has come to my attention that the latest faux-outrage to make the Canadian news is the decision by the Conservative Party to make the Canadian census long form voluntary. That such an item would be the source of so much media attention and that people actually want to be subjected to instrusive government questioning indicates some severe psychopathology. Rather than rejoicing that a tiny bit of statist idiocy has been consigned to the dustbin of history, there are people who are outraged that someone would dare do this. I, for one, think that being forced to fill out a very intrusive form with failure to complete said idiotic form being punishable by jail time is the type of behavior one expects from a totalitarian state. The people who are most outraged about the junking of this form are probably also upset when they don't have a roughly executed body cavity search during the security theater that one is forced to endure before boarding an aircraft.
Now I watch no TV news whatever, (and recently stopped watching broadcast TV completely), haven't read newspapers for the last decade (aside from the National Post which I rarely skim in the doctors lounge) and rely on a few select blogs to filter out all of the crap and present news of interest. My primary source of climate news is Watts up with that (WUWT), Small Dead Animals (SDA) for political news and Lubos Motl's blog for physics news. It was on SDA that I first read of the outrage by the self-styled Canadian ruling class (inconveniently not in power) to that dastardly deed that Stephen Harper had inflicted on the helpless populace of this country.
The primary reason that I completely cut myself off from all conventional news sources (the mainstream media (MSM)) was that exposure to this crap resulted in a perpetual state of outrage. I never did shoot my TV but came close and I figured that it wasn't healthy to be subjected to this externally mediated excess sympathetic stimulation all of the time. If I want to know something about a topic, I go to the internet and usually there are some bloggers who have exhaustively researched a particular topic and have posted their findings along with extensive links to their sources. This is far more usefull than the vacuous emotionalism that passes for news in the MSM.
In his book "Fooled By Randomness", Nassim Taleb refers to daily news as "noise". A steady daily diet contemporary news results in either extreme anger at the idiocy of journalists and politicians, or the inducement of multiple fears in people who can't see through the BS that constitutes the news. Taleb notes:
"the description coming from journalism is not just an unrealistic representation of the world but rather the one that can fool you the most by grabbing your attention via your emotional apparatus - the cheapest to deliver sensation" and
"This is one of the many reasons why journalism may be the greatest plague we face today -- as the world becomes more and more complicated our minds are trained for more and more simplification."
One fundamental need of people is to know what is going on around them. I get a far more balanced idea of what is happening locally in non-medical conversations with my patients and I go out more now that I no longer waste time on information sources that are severe distortions of reality. In talking to people I find that few have gone as far as I have and I often hear them parroting the latest sensationalist crap which, in the case of supposed anthropogenic global warming (AGW), has increasingly less and less connection with reality. The AGW religion would quickly die if a majority of people switched off their TV's and quit reading newspapers. (John Prine was way ahead of his time in Spanish Pipedream which contains the prophetic lines; "blow up your tv/throw away your paper/move to the country/build you a home/...") Fortunately more and more people are turning off TV news as the disconect between their percieved reality and the sensationalist statist crap that passes for North American news becomes ever greater.
A particularly annoying intrusion into my reality is the TV in my clinic waiting room which often is stuck on some MSM Canadian news channel where I'm temporarily exposed to unwanted noise; I see this as an incentive to write up my clinical notes on the patient I just saw as concisely and quickly as possible and go into the next exam room to see the next patient where I can't hear the noise. Some stuff gets through my wetware filters and I heard more of the faux outrage about the Canadian census this week.
Now there's a lot of important stuff happening in the world now; there was a large coronal mass ejection (CME) from the sun on 1/8/2010. The sun is the quietest it's ever been since the Dalton minimum which was associated with the little ice age. The Carrington event of 1/9/1859 was a massive CME aimed directly at the earth. A repeat of the Carrington event would potentially destroy every network connected electronic device in the world -- surely newsworthy IMHO. Then there's 2003 UV11, an ~600 meter diameter asteroid scheduled to pass within 5 lunar distances of earth on 30/10/2010. Considering that it's travelling at 25 km/sec with respect to earth; lets just say that intersection of its orbit with the earth is not something that a lot of people are going to remember the next day. Calculation of the kinetic energy of 2003 UV11 is left as an exercise for the reader. It's really reassuring to find out that 2003 UV11 belongs to the group of asteroids with "not enough time coverage, sparse data". Hey, what's more important in Canadian news; a potential dinosaur-killer asteroid in the near future or the tragedy that would result from making the census long form voluntary.
Carbon taxes - made in BC idiocy
Had to fuel up the jeep today and while fuming about the waste of time that is required to pay before pumping gasoline (an idiotic workplace regulation arbitrarily imposed by unelected unaccountable statist bureacrats) noticed that every liter of gasoline now has 4.54 cents of carbon taxes included. Of course this $0.0454 is multiplied by 1.12 for the Victoria statists to gouge yet more money from people. Then there is that same "carbon tax" imposed on natural gas which goes up yearly nicely coincident with global cooling which will enrich the Victoria kleptocrats even more and taxes on electricity to fund "sustainable" electricity generation projects. We didn't stop using windmills because the world ran out of wind; nothing shows the true agenda of the watermelons who dispoil the natural environment with massive noisy wind turbines that do quite a good job of slicing up large numbers of birds. These are the same moonbats who go after oil companies for a few dead birds on tar sands ponds whereas the carnage of windmills gets swept under the rug. I guess in the warped watermelon reality chopping birds into pieces is "sustainable" and "natural". And, BTW, wind power does a great job in destabilizing the electrical grid and the wind don't blow when it's really cold. I guess people freezing to death because of no "sustainable energy" is natural too. What I want is a nice clean nuclear reactor nearby as that waste heat is going to come in very handy as world temperatures continue to decline.
Given the revalations of climategate it is hard to believe that any politician in this country could truthfull say that AGW scam is scientifically based. What is real is the insatiable appetite for statists for money and, they are currently taking advantage of "the environment" in imposing tax after tax on things. I've botten totally fed up with this process and, if the Wild Rose Alliance wins the next Alberta provincial election, I'll be moving to Alberta.
Lying Gordon Campbell (head moonbat in BC) promised he wouldn't bring in the HST, but we know how much politicians promises are worth. Now I guess it's into the recall phase of the anti-HST campaign and as soon as I find out where to sign the petition to recall the local lieberal idiot MP's, I'll be supporting this move. I want to see the BC lieberal party utterly destroyed as they represent the worst possible mix of statism, watermelon ideology, crony capitalism and stupidity that one is going to find anywere except Ontario. BC politics seems to consist of governments of either the BC communist party or a party that just wants to keep the commies out of power. What we really need now in BC is a TEA party.
The Black Swan: preliminary thoughts
I had some time off recently and had a chance to read Nassim Taleb's book The Black Swan. Every decade or so I have my weltanschauung radically rearranged by a particularly profound book; Norretranders The User Illusion in 2000 and Gleick's Chaos in 1989 (which lead to the book From Clocks to Chaos by Glass and Mackey which almost made me quit medicine for research again). It's interesting that these major changes happen about once/decade which is also roughly the interval between my making major life alterations.
Black swans are the totally unexpected, unpredictable events that occur a lot more frequently than people think. The name comes from the assertion, prior to humans setting foot in Australia, that all swans are white. Looking back at my life I find that every major change was the result of a black swan event (the majority positive). Black swans are the "unknown unknowns" that complicate ones life and, on a personal level can be the unexpected heart attack or stroke or winning a lottery and on a social scale the collapse of the world financial system (a work in progress), near total disruption of air travel to Europe by a volcano in Iceland and the use of hijacked airliners to attack the world trade center on 11/9/2001. Curiously (not so curious after you read the book), it's the "experts" who have been the least likely to predict such events.
Humans live under the delusion that their lives are orderly and predictable. This illusion is created by the reality generating apparatus that creates our percieved reality (not something that Taleb dealt with in detail but the primary subject of Norretranders book). This reality generating apparatus has a number of design faults which result in it ignoring the possibility of black swans or minimizing their impact. This results in a number of fallacies which Taleb explores in great detail and it finally made me aware of why most physicians are stuck on linear relationships between variables -- this seems to be built into the human brain. I worked with non-linear systems during my research days so, to me, non-linear relationships are obvious but now I understand why I get so frustrated with much of the medical literature.
One of the key concepts in Taleb's book is the division of events as either belonging to "Mediocristan", the nicely behaved (from a statistical viewpoint) part of the world where conventional statistics works and measured variables fall on a Gaussian probability distribution (bell curve). His example is that of human heights which fall into a very narrow range and the probability of finding a 12' human is so close to zero that it is zero for practical purposes. Then there is "Extremistan" the dwelling place of the black swans. Events from extremistan can't be described by Gaussian statistics and are things like number of books that an author will sell and one that is known to most people is the Harry Potter series of novels which were the creation of the previously unknown author J. K. Rowling. Coming from seemingly nowhere, the Harry Potter series of books had sold some 400 million copies by June 2008. Considering that a book which sells 100,000 copies is considered a best seller the Harry Potter phenomenon clearly belongs to extremistan.
I realize the section above is a crappy review of the book and plan on revising it RSN. What struck me about The Black Swan was that I was familiar with many of the underlying concepts but had never seen them laid out in this fashion. It's a book that I plan on re-reading in the very near future to nail down the key points. It's already influenced my thinking quite a bit especially in the area of climate science.
Taleb destroys complicated financial models as they are useless and haven't predicted a single recession over the last 30 years. When one reads the book, it is clear that the analytic approach used is totally flawed and increasing the speed of computers used to run the models or the amount of information they start with won't make a bit of difference. Black swans are outside of the reality of the models and can't be predicted; all that can be done is to prepare for them and try to mitigate the effects when they do occur.
This situation is uncannily close to the highly detailed climate models that are said to predict global catastrophe unless we all give up industrial civilization and go back to living in a primitive fashion that doesn't result in release of CO2 into the atmosphere. I'm sorry to say that physicians appear to have been particularly gullible in this regard with major Canadian medical organizations coming out in support of processes which would destroy modern medicine as we know it if the drastic CO2 lowering called for by various watermelon groups (green on the outside, red on the inside) was to take place. The distortion of science as a result of the delusion of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) may be severe enough to destroy science. Fortunately, there are many voices of sanity on the internet with Watts Up With That (WUWT) being one of the most popular blogs pointing out that the AGW emperor has no clothes.
The earth's climate (considered over a period of centuries) belongs to extremistan, not mediocristan but the global climate models (GCM) are firmly rooted in mediocristan. They are less than useless and it will be interesting to see how future generations view this particular form of mass insanity that affected the world from 1990-2010. The only benefit that the AGW movement has given the rest of humanity is the insight that the earth's climate is a lot less stable than we think but we're not the ones who are making the changes. The thinking exhibited by the AGW proponents is isomorphic with the anthropocentric view pre-Galileo that the earth must be the center of the universe. I wish we had the ability to control the earth's climate but that is a long long way off.
One of the latest attempts by the AGW forces was the publication of a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) which tried to discredit scientists who don't believe in the preposterous claims of AGW by stating that 97% of climate scientists are believers in AGW and have a better publication record than the "disbelievers". Science is not a matter of consensus, it's about whose theory has predictive value and is resistent to attack. The paper in PNAS is a sign of desperation among the AGW adherents. I haven't read the PNAS paper as I can't get access to it online but the story was covered on WUWT at this link and there was a "hit list" of "disbelievers" at another site which I can't find the link for now. The posting I made is given below and I noticed as I was writing it that I was suddenly using concepts from The Black Swan. What follows is a corrected version of what I posted at WUWT.
That the PNAS has seen fit to publish a paper in which a central premise of a paper is the fact that 97% of scientists support the theory of AGW is a sad day for science. I don't care if 99% of scientists support a particular viewpoint; it just takes one scientist who demonstrates that the theory is false to produce a paradigm shift. There are numerous historical examples of where this was the case: 150 years ago 99% of physicians would have likely disbelieved the germ theory and it took the work of Semmelweis and Pasteur to finally convince the medical profession that they were on the wrong track. To make matters more embarrasing, Pasteur was not a physician.
Of course that is in the field of medicine which some can argue isnt a true science as consensus positions in many subspecialties are the norm (especially psychiatry). In the field of physical sciences one would expect true science to reign. AGW is a very sloppy theory and seems to be setup so it is non-falsifiable; IMHO Steve McIntyre has falsified AGW by his debunking of the hockey stick graph. AGW is such an amorphous theory that it seems anything that happens fits the theory; we have a colder than average winter and that is part of global warming. It is hotter than usual in the summer again global warming. It rains more, again global warming but then droughts are also forecast by global warming.
What has become clear is that most of climate science has become very unscientific. True science is open to anyone who is intelligent enough to take the basic premises of a branch of science, play with them and come up with novel testable theories. The sign of a non-scientist is the denigration of an individuals credentials when they come up with unexpected testable conclusions from data that "true scientists" have not. Steve McIntyre seems to frequently be attacked on this basis as his methodology for destroying one of the essential foundations of AGW can't be disproved by the "experts" in this area and Steve McIntyre is not an academic. Many of the novel discoveries in science have been made by non-experts or people with expertise in other fields as they are thinking out of the box whereas experts have great knowledge in a tiny area of science and no longer think much beyond their area of expertise.
I dont care if the person who comes up with the right answer is a cab driver, plumber or solar physicist; the main thing is if theyre right or not. We've seen failure after failure of AGW predictions and an ever increasing nebulous theory that now seems indistinguishable from a pseudo-scientific justification for unbridled statism.
From what I've seen, the well funded AGW establishment is unlikely to produce anything of scientific significance but is capable of producing immense harm. One has the situation where there are a small group of like-thinking "experts" who are the recipients of the funding and also serve as peer-reviewers of what are considered to be the most influential journals in the field (and thus determine which papers get published). These "experts" have graduate students who, through the process of confirmation bias and often not so subtle pressure from their thesis supervisor, reject the outliers they find in their thesis projects and come up with yet more support for the pet theory of their supervisor. This technique is fine if one is dealing with phenomena from mediocristan (the realm where normal distributions apply and conventional statistics works) but totally fails in extremistan which is the home of black swans, or unknown unknowns and also the regime corresponding to earths climate. We have been total failures in modelling the far more constrained financial systems with numeric models even with incredibly fine-grained data. The idea that one can use the same models (but faster computers) to model the highly chaotic climate system of the earth for which we know only imperfectly a few of the controlling parameters is the height of hubris (or insanity).
Throwing money at a large collection of climate "experts" would be analagous to creating a multiprocessor system to solve a problem in which every processor solves the identical problem with just minor differences. WUWT is the equivalent of a multiprocessor system in which the highly varied components solve differing problems in the realm of climate science and such a collection of individuals is far more likely to solve some of the difficult problems in this realm (or more importantly poke holes in poor theories) than the well funded multiprocessor system that is only working on a very tiny portion of the problem. This type of democratic science is very messy but far more likely to come up with solutions to climate science than the monolithic rigid science which is now indistinguishable from government. Democracy and capitalism are very messy multiprocessor parallel processing networks for solving social and economic problems but they are orders of magnitude better than central control solutions.
What I've found is that every time I change fields I come up with my most significant insights in the new field right at the beginning while I'm learning it; I'm glad I kept all my writings when I first got into medical school as they make me realize how myopic I've become about medicine now that I do medicine full time. To try to stay out of the expert trap I try to do some form of major career change every 10 years or so.
Moronic Sony KeyboardAt the end of last year I indulged myself in a new toy, the Sony Vaio touchscreen computer which has a very impressive display, 4 Gb of RAM, a 3 GHz dual core 64 bit processor and has been a great machine in all respects except that the keyboard supplied with the unit is an absolute POS. (It also runs windoze 7 which takes weeks to clean up but I've blogged about that earlier).
Having been typing stuff into computers for the last 40 years or so, I'm quite particular about my keyboards. Of the keyboards that I've used, IBM makes by far the best keyboards and they are almost indestructible. Given how much of a difference in typing speed a good keyboard makes, I don't mind shelling out top dollar for a keyboard that feels very natural to use. I hadn't really thought about keyboards very much as every machine I've used until recently has had a good keyboard. HP makes nice keyboards that don't last as long as the IBM indestructables and I can adapt to the cramped keyboard of the TC1000 and then find it enjoyable to have a bit of room for my fingers on the TC4400, my current tablet PC.
The Sony Vaio was to be my primary work machine as it is so nice to have a 1920x1080 screen in front of ones eyes (actually my work area has 3 monitors but the Vaio is the highest resolution). I thought that this would be a great machine until I attempted to use the keyboard which is an absolute POS. To see why, look at the image below.
The red circle marks the problem. WTF is this idiotic key and WTF is it where the Shift key should be? What idiot decided that the Caps_Lock key should be oversized? Who even uses the Caps_Lock key? THIS IS ONE OF MY VERY RARE USES OF THE CAPS_LOCK KEY BUT I PREFER NOT TO YELL WHEN I POST.
On a good keyboard I can type very fast, it is enjoyable and the backspace key doesn't get much of a workout. On the VGP-WKB10 keyboard shown above, it seems that the BS key was the most hit key on the keyboard as my left 5th digit kept hitting the idiotic new key when I wanted to use the shift key. To make matters even worse, the Sony keyboard design department imbeciles decided to add another extra key where the Enter key left hand border should be. My character entry rate with the Sony keyboard was so slow that I resorted to typing on a proper keyboard on another machine via a VNC connection to the Vaio (Ultra VNC works just fine with W7). This is obviously not what I had planned on doing. I ended up wearing out my TC4400 even more as it has a very nice keyboard shown below.
Some 5 months after I got this machine, finally, I found a keyboard that I can use with it and can now think of creative ways of destroying the crap keyboard that shipped with this computer. I was hoping to have a wireless keyboard but ended up finding a USB keyboard (the Vaio no longer seems to have a standard keyboard connector included). The keyboard that I bought today is a Lexma LK-7300 and it has about the nicest touch that I've found in a keyboard. The TC100 felt similar but too cramped and the Lexma keyboard fits my hands quite well. Haven't timed my typing speeds on the Lexma keyboard yet but it would appear that they are about 3 times faster than the POS Sony keyboard. The only unknown with the Lexma keyboard is longevity; it is Chinese made and my experience with Chinese made goods is that they generally fall apart in a short period of time.
The "new and improved" keyboard configuration that Sony shipped with this machine has been appearing on other laptops and this is very concerning. I was going to buy another laptop to replace my aging TC4400 which has seen a great deal of use but every time I find a computer that I think would work, I see the idiotic keyboard style that Sony has used. I'm not about to retrain my motor system to reach further on the left side of the keyboard; I already have enough of a problem having to remove the Windoze key (which again seems to serve absolutely no usefull function) on keyboards from which it is easy to remove. If one could easiiy remap keys then this wouldn't be an issue but there appears to be no program out there which can remap keyboard scan codes the way that I want to. The M$ program which purports to do this just resulted in my wasting 2 hours of time and having nothing to show for it at the end. Time to go on Ebay and stockup on TC4400's while they're still available.